Amazon Jet Pilot Says 'Lord Have Mercy' Just Before Fatal Crash into Houston Bay, Cockpit Recording Reveals

The haunting final words of pilots aboard a cargo jet about to crash have been released, with one making repeated appeals to God.

A transcript of the cockpit recording of the verbal exchange between Ricky Blakely and Conrad Jules Aska on the Atlas Air cargo flight from Miami to Houston on February 23, reveals growing anxiety on board as they began to lose control.

Air traffic controllers had re-routed the Boeing 767 they were on to avoid rain, KHOU reported, but soon afterwards, one pilot exclaimed, "Whoa, [where's] my speed, my speed…we're stalling. Stall."

The transcript, released by the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] reveals Aksa exclaiming, "Oh Lord have mercy on myself."

After hearing thumping noises, he then said, "Lord have mercy."

As the plane lost altitude, thumping noises continued to be heard and the flight data recorder stopped recording as the plane headed downwards at 433 knots.

Just before the impact with shallow waters in Trinity Bay near Anahauc, Houston, Aska shouted "Lord...you have my soul!"

Aska, Blakely, and a third pilot for another airline, Sean Archuleta, who was at the rear of the cockpit, died in the crash which scattered debris and packages in the bay. The plane had been carrying Amazon Prime packages.

The documents released on Thursday did not say what exactly caused the crash, and the NTSB is expected to reach its conclusions in 2020, pending further investigations.

However, the report did suggest that the pilot mistakenly thought the plane's nose was pointed too high and so jerked the jet down too steeply.

Atlas, which is part of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc, said it was co-operating with the investigation.

Time reported that questions had been raised over the training of the pilots and that Aksa had a record of failing flight tests and may have lost his sense of direction in the clouds.

In a statement to Newsweek, Atlas said: "We remain devastated by the loss of Flight 3591 that claimed the lives of two of our valued pilots and a colleague.

"We continue to provide their families with care and support. The safety of our employees is always our top priority."

"Atlas' workforce and fleet meet or exceed all government safety standards. Atlas pilot training includes multiple reviews, evaluations and proficiency checks to comply with FAA regulations."

"We continually evaluate all training and hiring procedures, and in addition, in the aftermath of Flight 3591, we enhanced training for our employees and expanded background checks for all candidates."

"We are cooperating fully with the National Transportation Safety Board in seeking to determine the cause of this unfortunate accident. We await its final report," the statement added.

After the crash, which was the fifth fatal incident in a decade with cargo planes, the Federal Aviation (FAA) said it would be"taking a focused look at cargo operations," over concerns that safety standards were less strict on cargo planes than for passenger aircraft, according to Bloomberg.

This story has been updated to include a statement by Atlas.

Atlas Air cargo plane
A Boeing 747 cargo freighter belonging to Atlas Air lifts off from Hong Kong International Airport, on 23 October 2017, in this illustrative image. Pilots aboard an Atlas plane died in February 2019 when it crashed near Houston. Getty Images
Amazon Jet Pilot Says 'Lord Have Mercy' Just Before Fatal Crash into Houston Bay, Cockpit Recording Reveals | News